The Blue Hour VR
with Paul Cegys
artist talk on digital scenography
January 20th, 16-18h
@4th Space Concordia
The event is wheelchair accessible.
Photo credit: courtesy of Tomáš Brabec, Jan Hromadko, David Kumermann
The Blue Hour VR experience, created by Paul Cegys and Joris Weijdom, as part of the 36Qº at the 2019 Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space, is an innovative and formative example of a site-responsive mixed reality (MR) performance design, which blurs the boundaries between performance, spectatorship, and real and virtual environments. Piloting interactive virtual-reality (VR) technology and hybrid environments that blend 360º cinematography and real-time 3D graphics, Blue Hour VR drew new lines of experience for participants, placing them at the centre of a performance experience, thereby expanding our understanding of scenographic dramaturgies that exist inside, outside and in-between realities. Its artistic impetus was rooted in a social one, asking what it means to be ‘present’ in relationship to different shifting ecological spaces and the consequences of the anthropocene.
Blue Hour VR experience explicitly focused on the interweave between different modes of sensing within the experiencer’s physical body through the blending of real and virtual environments. This radically (re)positioned the body of the experiencer at the locus of performance, duplicating her in two places at the same time (real and virtual), thereby (dis)connecting and (re)mediating social relationships. In doing so the mixed-reality performance design of the Blue Hour VR experience questions the very ontology of performance.
Paul Cegys’ work merges multiple practices of performance creation and design, from theatre and opera to site-specific installation and intermedial mixed-reality scenographies. He has worked abroad in Italy, Finland, Czech Republic, India, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Poland, Lithuania, and the United States. He has worked for La Monnaie/De Munt (Royal Belgian Opera), Canadian Opera Company, CanStage, Soulpepper Theatre Company, and Opera Hamilton. Upholding his commitment to ecological imperatives he merges his artistic work with his sustainability practice (MSc. in Sustainability Science and Environmental Studies, Lunds University, Sweden). Cegys is the Co-Creator of Blue Hour VR, a site-responsive mixed-reality performance event which premiered at the 2019 Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design. He is the Co-Creator of Individuality and Interconnection, a 360º video project that maps the creative spaces of Canadian performance designers and he is the Digital Scenographer for The Home, a VR experience designed for the Digital Oral Histories for Reconciliation project funded by SSHRC and in partnership with Oculus VR. He is a Lecturer in the Department of Communication Arts at the University of Waterloo, and serves on the advisory board of the Toasterlab Mixed Reality Performance Atelier. He is currently a PhD candidate at the School of Arts, Design and Architecture at Aalto University in Finland.